My normal line of work is installing cabinets and building TV Cabinets. A
customer asked me if I could refinish his Craps Tables. He's in the Gaming
Entertainment business. Not real gaming since it's in California,
entertainment gaming. Anyway how would I charge for something like this?
Time and Material and try to make it fair? I'm going to look at the tables
tomorrow to see what kind of shape they are in. Just wondering if anyone
out there does this kind of thing for a living? And how do they charge for
it? I would like to help this guy since he's got a dead line and he's a
good customer or should I try to steer him towards a Furniture Refinisher?
Googling for "Furniture Refinishing" in my area comes up with nothing.
Thanks for any advice.
"You can lead them to LINUX
but you can't make them THINK"
No help for your primary question, but one idea for finding a
refinisher is to find some local stores that sell relatively high-end
furniture (Henredon, Henkel Harris, etc) and ask them for a
recommendation, or who does their repairs.
Alex -- Replace "nospam" with "mail" to reply by email. Checked infrequently.
Tough one without SEEING the table, Rich..
I've built 2 craps tables and they both incorporated padding and upholstery...
Might be a total time waster for you, unless you like upholstery as well as
IMHO, unless you look at the table and think you can do it easily and quickly,
you'll do him a better service by finding someone else to do it than taking the
time (probably not billable) to learn a new skill while he's on a deadline..
Please remove splinters before emailing
He says the felt and cushions comes off the table easily and he would do
that and replace it. He also said he wants it darker, so I'm thinking a gel
stain with a urethane finish, but without knowing the species of wood, I'm
over thinking this. I'll know more tonight.
I do appreciate the replies.
"You can lead them to LINUX
but you can't make them THINK"
Not sure where in CA you are, but if you decide not to take the job, there are 2
or 3 "gaming" companies in San Mateo County that take gaming stuff to charity
events and things...
They must have some places that refinish their stuff..
Please remove splinters before emailing
Call Vegas - seriously.
Call the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and ask them for the names of a
couple of gaming table repair shops. They've got to exist in Vegas.
Then call them and tell them who you are to see if they will give you
any hints or tips. You're not taking any business from them, so maybe
as one craftsman to another, they'd be willing to chat.
Also ask if they have any contacts in California that you can send
your customer to, assuming you decide that you don't want to do it
Most of my business is new furniture but I have on occasion done some
refinishing repair and I can tell you that it tends to be very profitable.
The alternative for the customer is to buy new so refinishing at a good
profit for you and your time is cheaper for him.
You must however warn them about problems that can develop and will have to
be dealt with as an additional cost.
I think most people toss it. Most people either have crap furniture or
don't realize what they have. Antique dealers do a lot of this kind of work
but typically there is a line behind their stuff or they want too much.
That's pretty easy. I have done a lot of refinishing, and made a
pretty good lick out there refinishing front doors. I stripped,
sanded, repaired, stained, lacquered and reinstalled on site. Did
anything from refinishing custom made doors on historical buildings to
nice door on houses.
I have also done a fair amount of furniture.
Easy refinishing is just that... easy. Strip, Sand, Seal. Ta dah!!
Finished, collect the money.
A real challenging piece and it can be your undoing. Take a piece
that has had several coats of unknown finish(es) on it. Which
strippers work best? How do you know until you start?
What do you do for your repairs? Do you sand and fill, use a shellac
stick and melt, do you plug, or do you leave it as patina to help
establish the correct look for the piece?
And for compatible finishes, or for finishes that would be correct for
the piece... try putting them over a stripped and sanded piece that
has been finished with layers of shellac, varnish, lacquer, and maybe
even paint of some sort.
Then on to the repairs to veneers, remaking or repairing features,
parts, etc. And don't forget, every good refinisher knows how to
restore that one of a kind hardware, too. That includings of course,
repatinating the metal parts as needed.
Those are probably some of the reasons there aren't more good
refinishers in the market.
But is you were a one note samba and refinished only gaming tables,
you might have something. No doubt they are finished with one of the
harder than hell conversion finishes, and probably have only one coat
of finish on them. Probably not too hard to deal with if you have a
good stripper and a good detail sander. One coat of almost anything
isn't usually too hard to remove.
Now you just need to find yourself an ultrahard finish that can be
applied in your shop, one that can cure hard for immediate use in a
Could be doable.
I like the advice from the poster that said to call Las Vegas. You
KNOW those guys have a system in place including strip methods and
BTW... do you have to do the felts as well?
Actually, I've had good luck with "Hope's Finish Remover", but it's
really nasty stuff that makes me happy I don't do a lot of
** http://www.bburke.com/woodworking.html **
Always stripped myself. I do it the old fashioned way but with newer
First - never use anything metal. Maybe a brass brush for details,
but that's it. Never.
Buy really stiff brushes like are used to clean grout and such, and
those will do the work for you. I apply the stripper, and if the
finish boils up immediately, I keep an eye on it and see if it is just
one layer boiling up. If it is one layer, you will be able to see
that it is, and you will need to apply another coating of stripper.
Take a stiff brush or stiff plastic spatula and remove what you can,
and reapply your stripper.
Don't be stingy with the stripper. When applying a coat, leave a good
thick layer on it. If you can, buy those several of those ultrathin
paint drop cloths and cover the piece after coating.
After I use the bathroom brushes to clean everything off that I can, I
put down another thinner coat of stripper. Use clean sawdust from a
saw (not from a planer, sander or anything else) that isn't colored or
glued. So no walnut, cherry, redwood, cedar, plywood, cabply, mdf, or
anything else. When I run out I rip up old 2X yellow pine as it is
the hardest and abrades the best.
The bonus is that on this coat, you apply the sawdust, scrub away with
the brush, and the sawdust will pick up both the excess stripper and
the old finish. No drippy crap or long stringy things of finish.
Just sweep up the sawdust clumps and throw them away.
If you are stripping a one coat of finish, or even some two coat
finishes, you may be able to start with the stripper/stiff brush/
sawdust method and you will be done pretty quickly.
I would say one in three or four. Don't kid yourself, it is tedious
work. Nitrile gloves, plastic sawhorses (if you need to put the
project up), caustic materials, veneer repairs, etc. are all things
that most aren't used to dealing with. And deciding WHEN to pull the
finish off is hard when you have multiple coats on the piece. It
takes practice and patience.
If I am buying locally, I only use BIX or Jasco. Buy the BIX in heavy
duty if you can as it has a lot more corrosive agents in it. It works
better for conversion finishes, heat applied finishes, and good
Jasco is pretty good, works better on some finishes than others, but
is generally more expensive.
If I have several projects and need a lot of stripper, or if I have a
stubborn finish, I really like the stripper from these guys:
Look on the left hand side for paint removers. If you are unsure
which product to buy, call 'em. They have great tech support.
Nope, but don't practice on someone else's property. Get a few under
your belt first, then jump in. It isn't brain surgery.
Learning technique is important. For example, when you wash off the
project to remove the last of the debris, you should brush it down
well with a stiff brush and vacuum it to remove any re-hardened resins
that may be stuck in corners or cracks. These will dissolve in your
wash and leave streaks. There are all kinds of little demons like
that you have to address to be good finisher. (BTW - I found that one
out the hard way myself.)
I think demand has slowed as the crappy products that are out there
will not lend themselves to refinishing. Most furniture, etc., is
made to be used until tossed. And after you strip off some of the
wonderful finishes that are on some of the higher end furniture, you
will be totally surprised at how poorly built they are of dissimilar
Always like to hear that!
Go to the link above. I have used about 75 gallons of his conversion
lacquer, and I love it. It is spray only, but I assume you will be
spraying anyway. No professional use/grade hard finishes are put on
with pads, rags, or brushes in a heavy use application.
I did see though, that he has some new finishes, so there may be
Stay away from the felts. Those guys really know what they are
doing. They have to align the silkscreen logos and graphics so they
look straight, also aligned with the table, and then do it all with
the correct tension so it won't sag.
Last year I built 6 bar still height blackjack tables, and didn't
have the time to do the upholstered rail or the felts. Man was I glad
I didn't. We delivered the tables to a local upholstery shop and I
dropped by to see how they were coming one day. Again, I am glad I
bailed out of that one. Apparently the client had shopped hard for
the felts and bought some really cheap ones, and they stretched all
over kingdom come while being applied.
I have certainly done my share. And it can indeed by pretty lucrative
if you can tie up with the right market. You would think I was lying
if I told you what I got for my efforts, so think about it this way:
- When I refinished front doors, I tried to be at about 50% of
replacement cost for a new door, including finishing. This made easy
to estimate as I also installed a lot of new doors. BUT, you have to
have a minimum cost, of which only you would know to cover materials,
overhead, etc. This was just a general guideline for doors and
probably isn't applicable to much else.
- When doing projects, do them time and materials. This is where the
experience is needed. How long to strip? How long to sand? How long
to finish? Only experience will tell you.
- You need to come up with a contract for work that covers
delamination, staining of wood you could not see until stripped,
unforeseen occurances such as bad repairs being revealed (or worse,
coming apart from your stripper), and on an on.
On a gaming table, I can't imagine you having too much to deal with,
but on the other hand, I would still do a couple of projects before I
sold my services as a pro.
As always, just my 0.02.
Hope this helps out.
You might try searching for furniture stripping. There are places
around here (NE OH) that have dip tanks and specialized equipment to
strip all kinds of finishes. I used one to strip pieces from a piano
I refinished. They will either also do finishing or know someone who
Of course, a lot of jobs don't need stripping, but worth talking to
them once you know the details.
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